The UK government has outlined its intentions to invest in driving 5G and 6G development with the support of £110 million ($135m) worth of investment.

This will see three UK universities awarded £28 million ($34m) to help design and develop 6G network technology with selected vendors.

UK 5G/6G

The lion's share of this investment will go towards an £80 million ($98m) fund to set up a state-of-the-art UK Telecoms Lab in the West Midlands for testing network equipment.

This announcement comes just a week after the DCMS revealed that the UK is investing £250 million ($306m) to put the UK at the forefront of 5G innovation.

The three universities tasked with developing technology for 6G advancements are the University of York, the University of Bristol, and the University of Surrey.

These universities will work alongside major telecom companies including Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung to design and build networks of the future such as 6G.

Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan noted that the government's investment will help to underpin the new networks, while also creating new jobs, and eliminating the need for reliance on a handful of companies.

She said: "The technology powering our phone and Internet networks is evolving rapidly and with 6G on the horizon, we must stay ahead of the curve.

"The funding will also turbocharge our work to strengthen telecoms supply chains so we are no longer reliant on a handful of companies to develop and maintain our 5G networks."

Meanwhile, the telecoms lab being developed in Solihull, West Midlands, is set to act as a secure research facility for mobile network operators, suppliers, and academics to research and test telecoms technology. This includes tests on the security, resilience, and performance of 5G and future 6G technology.

The UK government is also investing in Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites trials to serve the UK's most remote areas.

UK continuing to push Open RAN

A special focus on Open RAN was also announced by the UK government today (December 13), as a new R&D partnership with South Korea has got underway.

The partnership is expected to boost the development of Open RAN and its associated technologies, said the government.

This joint project is focusing on the power efficiency of emerging technical equipment and will receive over £3m ($3.7m), including £1.2m ($1.5m) from the UK Government.

Deploying Open RAN effectively means that telecom operators can mix and match equipment from several telco vendors to serve their network.

Last week the UK was backed with its vision to push Open RAN by the US, Australia, and Canada. The three countries agreed to endorse the UK's plans for the development of Open RAN, which seeks to promote a new breed of telecoms kit which allows providers to ‘mix and match’ solutions from multiple vendors which is not possible under the current network setups.

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